Sichuan Stir-Fry Sauce (For Chicken or Beef)

Sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons aged Pixian chili bean paste (doubanjiang)
3 tablespoons canola (or other neutral) oil
2 teaspoons Sichuan chili flakes (toasted and ground chilies)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground red Sichuan pepper
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese light soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For Chicken
1 pound dark-meat chicken, cut in small, ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/4 pound mildly hot green chili peppers (Chinese or Korean long hot peppers or Anaheim), cut on the diagonal in 1-inch pieces
2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced

For Beef
3/4 pound steak (top sirloin, flank steak, etc.), cut in thin, slices
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 small white onion, cut in ½-inch slices
1 red or green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
cilantro

In a small bowl, mix the sauce: doubanjiang, oil, chili flakes, ground Sichuan pepper, dark brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil.

In a separate bowl, marinate the chicken or beef in Shaoxing wine.

Heat wok until very very hot, add a couple tablespoons of oil and swirl around the wok. Once heated, pour that oil out and add 2 tablespoons fresh oil. This procedure helps keep the chicken from sticking to the wok, which it really wants to do.

Add chicken or beef and let sear, undisturbed, on one side. When lightly browned, continue stir-frying until just cooked through. Remove and reserve.

Clean wok, return to heat, and add 2 tablespoons oil. Add vegetables and stir-fry over high heat until they start to brown but are still crispish.

Add garlic slices and cook briefly, then lower heat, push the veg to the sides of the wok and add the stir-fry sauce into the center. Cook it briefly, then add back the chicken, or the beef and cilantro, and mix all ingredients well.

La Jiao Jiang (Hot Chili Sauce)

1 pound hot red chili peppers (Fresno, red jalapeño, cayenne, Thai, etc., or a mix of all of them)
1 red bell pepper (to tame heat, if needed)
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cut hot chili peppers into smallish chunks, including green caps (but not stems).

Chop in a food processor to a chunky paste. Taste to determine heat. If it is too hot, add bell pepper a chunk at a time to lower the heat level. Continue to process to your desired heat level and consistency.

Mix in the vinegar and salt.

Put in a glass pint jar, attach top loosely, and let sit for a day at room temperature to develop the flavor.

Seal tightly and refrigerate up to several weeks.

Sichuan Roasted Chili Eggplant (Liang Ban Qie Zi)

1 pound small Asian eggplant
1/2 pound mildly spicy green chilies (er jing tiao, large jalapeno, poblano)
1 tablespoon minced (not pureed) garlic (about 4 medium cloves)
4 tablespoons white rice vinegar
6 tablespoons canola or rapeseed oil
6 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
3 tablespoons green Sichuan pepper oil (qing hua jiao or teng jiao oil)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Maggi seasoning sauce
1 tablespoon chili oil (don’t include flakes)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
handful cilantro, chopped

Bring water to a boil in a steamer. Cut the eggplant in half horizontally, place in a bowl and carefully place bowl into steamer when water begins to boil. Steam for about 20 minutes. You want the eggplant to be luxuriously soft and creamy. Remove from steamer and let cool, then cut each piece in half vertically and into large bite-size pieces.

While eggplant is steaming, roast the green chilies. This can be done directly over a stovetop fire, in a hot, dry pan or under a broiler. Turn the chilies so that all of the skin gets charred and the chili blackens almost entirely, as larger chilies will need to cook that long to be roasted. Put blackened chilies in a plastic bag and let them sweat for a few minutes so the skin will be easier to remove. When cool, peel the skin off, remove the seeds and dice the chilies into small cubes.

In a bowl or large mixing cup add the garlic and white rice vinegar and let the garlic soak for a few minutes to tame the heat. Then add the other sauce ingredients: oil, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper oil, oyster sauce, Maggi seasoning, chili oil and sugar. Whisk ingredients together until well blended and emulsified. Add diced green chilies to the sauce.

Arrange eggplant pieces in a shallow serving bowl and pour the green chili sauce over them. Garnish with green onion and cilantro. Serve at room temperature.

Mian’s Chengdu ZaJiang Noodles

Makes 4 servings

5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C water
+ vegetable oil
1 lb ground pork
5 T soy sauce
2 T Chinese sweet sauce (tian mian jiang) or hoisin sauce
1/2 C chicken broth
1/4 C jarred crushed Chinese chiles in oil
2 T ground Sichuan peppercorns
4 t melted pork fat
4 t sesame paste
1/4 C chopped scallions, plus more for garnish
2 lbs fresh ramen or lo mein noodles

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Make the garlic water: In a small bowl, combine the garlic with ¼ cup water. Set aside.

Heat a slick of vegetable oil in a large wok or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground pork, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When the pork begins to brown, add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the Chinese sweet sauce and cook through, another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth—the pork should look almost soupy—and cook for another 5 minutes. Keep warm.

Pull out 4 serving bowls. Into each bowl, add 1 tablespoon of chilies in oil, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of Sichuan pepper, 2 teaspoons of the garlic water, 1 teaspoon of pork fat, 1 teaspoon of sesame paste, and 1 tablespoon of scallions.

Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the noodles and divide them among the serving bowls.

Top each bowl of noodles with a quarter of cooked pork. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Chengdu Zajiang Noodles (Zajiang Mian)

Pork topping for 4-6 servings
1 pound ground pork
3 pickled medium-hot red chillies (or 3 tablespoons Sambal Oelek or similar pickled chili sauce)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-1/3 cups water
2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sweet wheat/soybean sauce (tian mian jiang)

Sauce ingredients PER BOWL/SERVING
1 teaspoon melted lard
2 tablespoons chili oil with flakes (preferably homemade and medium-hot)
2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
1 tablespoon chicken broth
1 teaspoon Zhenjiang black vinegar
1 teaspoon runny Chinese sesame paste
1/4 teaspoon roasted, ground Sichuan pepper (or more, depending on potency of peppercorns)
2 teaspoons thinly sliced green onions: 1 teaspoon for sauce and 1 teaspoon for garnish
4 ounces dried, or 6 ounces fresh, thin or medium-wide wheat noodles per serving
1/2 cup noodle water, held in reserve
Additional, optional toppings
2 baby bok choy per serving
1 hard-fried egg per serving

First make the pork topping. Heat wok over a high flame until wisps of heat start to rise, add 2 tablespoons canola oil and heat until hot. Add pork, vigorously breaking it up with your spatula into the smallest crumbles possible. Cook pork until starting to brown and most of its juices have been cooked off. Push pork to the sides of the wok to make a well in the center and add the pickled chilies and garlic. Let cook briefly and then stir-fry with the pork. Add the water, light and dark soy sauces and sweet wheat paste and bring to a low boil. Let simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary to maintain a wet sauce.

While the pork is cooking, prepare a bowl for each individual serving. Put lard into each bowl and melt in the microwave. Add chili oil with flakes, soy sauce, broth, Zhenjiang vinegar, runny sesame paste, Sichuan pepper powder and green onions to each bowl and mix well.

Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on to boil. Add noodles and cook, then add small baby bok choy to noodles about 3 minutes before noodles are done and boil together. Drain noodles and bok choy, reserving some of the noodle water. (If noodles get dry and sticky while you are completing other steps, run hot water over them briefly.)

If using eggs, fry them in oil until completely cooked on each side, one per serving.

Place a mound of cooked noodles on top of the sauce in each bowl. Top with desired amount of pork, baby bok choy and fried egg. Garnish with green onions. Each diner should thoroughly mix the noodles with the sauce on the bottom and the pork topping before digging in. (If you misjudge the noodle to sauce ratio, add a bit of reserved noodle water to create additional sauce.)

Tian Mian Jiang Pork (Jiang Rou Si)

1 pound lean pork (such as boneless loin chops)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 green bell peppers
6-7 scallions
2 tablespoons sweet wheat paste (tian mian jiang)
1 tablespoon Pixian chili bean paste (douban jiang)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce

Freeze pork chops until somewhat stiff, which makes it much easier to slice them into thin strips, about 1/8-inch thick. Mix with 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine and salt and leave to marinate. Cut bell peppers and scallions into thin strips similar in size to the pork, about 3 inches long. If the scallions are fat, also cut them in half vertically.

Heat a wok over high flame until wisps of heat start to rise and add 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil. When the oil is hot, add bell pepper and scallion strips and stir-fry until they are starting to soften. Remove them and hold in reserve.

Return the wok to high heat and add 2 tablespoons oil. When oil is hot, spread pork around the wok in one layer and let it sear on one side. Flip the pork over and let it sear on the other side. Stir-fry the pork strips until they are lightly browned.

Push the pork to the sides of the wok. There should be a few tablespoons of juice from the pork. Add the sweet wheat paste and chili bean paste to the liquid in the center of the wok and let it cook briefly. Add ½ cup water, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine and the soy sauce and mix well with the meat. Add back the vegetables and stir-fry everything together until it is hot and the flavors have melded.

Sichuan Cucumbers 3 Ways

1 medium English cucumber, about 11 ounces, or two cups chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Hot-and-Sour:
1 or 2 fresh or pickled red chilies, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Chinese white rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Mala:
1 teaspoon Chinese white rice vinegar
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
6-8 dried red chilies, left whole or snipped in half and retaining their seeds for extra heat, depending on the heat of your chilies and your desired heat
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

Sesame:
2 tablespoons suimi yacai
1 tablespoon Chinese sesame paste
1 tablespoon Chinese white rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chili oil with flakes

For any of the three recipes, prepare cucumber by using a vegetable peeler or knife to partially skin the cucumber with vertical stripes. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Cut the cucumber in half vertically. For the hot-and-sour cucumbers, use a mandolin or sharp knife to cut the cucumber halves into 1/8-inch slices. For the mala or sesame cucumbers, smack the two cucumber pieces along the back with a heavy knife or rolling pin until they start to break down a bit and the skin starts to crack. Cut in half again vertically and then diagonally into bite-size pieces.

Put slices or pieces in a colander and mix well with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Let sit and drain for 30 minutes. Pat the cucumbers dry with a clean towel or paper towel and transfer to a bowl.

For the hot-and-sour cucumbers, add the sliced fresh or pickled chilies to the cucumbers. Mix the rice vinegar, water and sugar together and pour over the cucumbers and chilies.

For the mala cucumbers, add the 1 teaspoon rice vinegar to the cucumbers. In a small sauce pan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat until slightly hot and a test Sichuan peppercorn starts to sizzle. Add the peppercorns and cook until they sizzle and smell very fragrant. Add the dried chili peppers and toss quickly, allowing them to get toasty but not burned. Immediately pour the oil and peppers over the cucumbers and mix well.

For the sesame cucumbers, mix the yacai, sesame paste, rice vinegar, sesame oil and garlic together well in a small bowl. Combine with the cucumbers and mix well. Drizzle the cucumbers with the chili oil and flakes.

Dan Dan Noodles

2 tablespoons lard (or oil)
1/3 pound finely ground pork
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons tian mian jiang (sweet wheat paste)
pinch salt
4 baby bok choy, cleaned and leaves separated
1 pound (450 grams) thin Chinese wheat noodles
3 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
2 tablespoons Zhenjiang black rice vinegar
3 tablespoons chili oil with flakes
3 tablespoons yacai
3 tablespoons scallion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 chicken stock

Heat a dry wok until quite hot, reduce heat to medium and add lard. When lard is hot, add the ground pork and stir-fry until the pork loses its pinkness. Add the Shaoxing cooking wine, sweet wheat paste and salt and continue to stir-fry until the pork is well-cooked. Drain the pork from the fat and keep in reserve.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add bok choy and cook about 2 minutes, or until done. Remove boy choy and chop into bite-size pieces. Add noodles to same pot of boiling water and cook just until done. Drain noodles and stir in a bit of oil to keep them from sticking together.

Mix the light soy sauce, Zhenjiang black vinegar, chili oil with flakes, yacai, scallions and sugar in a serving bowl. Add the chicken stock and mix well.

Layer the noodles into the bowl on top of the sauce. If you’re not sure of your quantity of noodles, add only enough to maintain a generous sauce-to-noodle ratio. Top the noodles with the pork and garnish with the bok choy leaves. Mix it up at table before serving.

Yu Xiang Eggplant (Yu Xiang Qie Zi)

1 1/2 pounds Asian eggplant (about 3 large ones), peeled or unpeeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 cup peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
2 teaspoons Zhenjiang black vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon roasted ground Sichuan pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chili bean paste (douban jiang)
5 to 6 green onions, cut into 1-inch lengths
2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with 4 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat a dry wok until quite hot, add oil and heat until a test bit of eggplant sizzles when it hits the oil. If you are using Asian eggplant there is no need to salt the eggplant to reduce bitterness, simply add it to the wok and fry until lightly golden, in about three batches. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Mix the soy sauce, Zhenjiang vinegar, sugar, Sichuan pepper and chicken broth together in a measuring cup as the seasoning liquid.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil and reheat. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry briefly, then add the chili bean paste and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the seasoning liquid, give a stir, then add the eggplant back to the wok.

Cook the eggplant briefly, then add the green onions and cook until the liquid starts to disappear. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until sauce thickens. Add sesame oil and remove to platter.

Mapo Doufu (Ma Po Tofu)

2 ounces (60 grams) ground beef
6 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
5 teaspoons Pixian chili bean paste (douban jiang)
2 teaspoons fermented black beans (dou chi)
2 teaspoons chili flakes (Sichuan or Korean)
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 to 5 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 block Asian soft tofu (14 ounces or 400 grams), cut in ¾-inch dice
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon ground, roasted Sichuan pepper

Heat wok until hot. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat until just begins to smoke. Add beef and stir-fry, breaking it into a small mince, until it is cooked through and starting to brown. Remove the beef and hold.

Clean the work, return it to heat until hot, then add the remaining 5 tablespoons oil. Heat briefly, then add the chili bean paste, fermented black beans and chili flakes. Let these sizzle until fragrant, being careful not to burn them. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce and scallions.

Return the minced beef to the wok. Add the tofu squares, and simmer for a couple minutes, gently tossing the tofu with the sauce. Add the cornstarch slurry a bit at a time until the dish thickens. You may not need it all.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with ground Sichuan pepper.

Gong Bao Ou Pian (Kung Pao Lotus Root or Potato)

1 pound (400 grams) fresh lotus root or potato, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch slices
3 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon thinly sliced ginger
1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
12 medium-hot dried red chili peppers (Sichuan, Tianjin or Korean), cut in half
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons Zhenjiang black rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup raw peanuts (preferably skinless)

Slice the lotus root, green onions, ginger and garlic. Cut the chili peppers in half, retaining the seeds. Keep lotus root slices in a bowl of cool water until time to cook them.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the sauce: vinegar, chicken stock, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, cornstarch and salt.

Heat wok until starting to smoke, add 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil and heat until hot. Add peanuts, tossing and turning them in the wok until they are golden brown. If they brown too quickly turn down the heat. Remove and set aside.

Drain the lotus root and pat it dry with a towel. Wipe out the wok and heat until wisps of smoke appear. Add enough oil to deep-fry the lotus root, or use less oil to shallow-fry them in two batches. Fry until just starting to brown on the edges. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Pour out the oil, clean the wok and return to the heat until hot. Add one tablespoon oil, heat briefly, and add the chili peppers and Sichuan pepper. Stir-fry until fragrant, but do not brown or burn. Add green onions, ginger and garlic and stir-fry until just starting to soften.

Return lotus root to wok, add the sauce and stir-fry briefly, until the flavors meld. Add the peanuts and mix them through the dish to warm them. When sauce has thickened and everything is hot, remove to a plate and serve.

Jiao Ma Ji (Cold Chicken in Sichuan Pepper-Scallion Oil)

1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken breast with skin (two split breasts)
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn (not roasted)
1 to 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
6 to 8 tablespoons chili oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce (Chinese light soy sauce)
2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt

Make a paste of grated ginger and kosher salt. Rub all over chicken and under skin and marinate for 30 minutes. Put chicken pieces in a bowl set on a rack in a steamer and steam for about 40 minutes, until just cooked through. Allow to cool a bit and then chop into large chunks, skin, bone and all. Arrange in serving bowl or plate.

Make jiao ma paste by mincing the scallions and Sichuan pepper together and adding just enough peanut oil to cover.

Mix the jiao ma paste, chili oil, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper oil, sesame oil and salt together and pour over the chicken till oil pools in the bottom of the dish.

The juice the chicken leaves in the bowl while steaming makes about a cup of flavorful stock. Just strain and use for any of the numerous Sichuan recipes that call for a bit of stock in the sauce.

Xiang La Fei Niu Rou (Hot and Spicy Beef)

3/4 to 1 pound fajita beef (sirloin flap or skirt steak), cut diagonally across the grain into ¼-inch strips
1 cup peanut or canola oil
3 tablespoons chili flakes (or ground chilies)
1 teaspoon ground roasted Sichuan pepper
1/2 yellow or red onion, cut in thin strips
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
4 to 5 green chili peppers (jalapeño or serrano), cut in thin strips (seeded only if you must)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro, cut in sections
4 teaspoons chili oil
2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat wok until hot. Add enough oil to deep-fry the meat, about 1 cup. Heat oil just until a test piece sizzles (300° F or 150°C; it should not be hot enough to brown the meat). Fry beef strips until they are just cooked through, then remove and let drain on paper towels.

Turn on the exhaust fan or open doors in preparation for chilies!

Clean the wok, return it to the heat until hot, then add 3 tablespoons fresh oil. Heat the oil briefly, then add chili flakes and Sichuan pepper and cook until fragrant, but do not burn. Add back the beef and stir-fry until it is starting to brown.

Add the onions, red bell pepper and green chili peppers and stir-fry until peppers are just beginning to wilt.

Add the Shaoxing wine, sugar and salt, constantly tossing and turning the meat. Then add the cilantro, chili oil, Sichuan pepper oil and sesame oil to finish the dish, stir-frying briefly to meld flavors. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.

Hui Guo Rou (Twice-Cooked Pork)

1 pound (450 grams) skin-on pork belly, half-lean/half-fat
1 heaping tablespoon Pixian chili bean paste (douban jiang)
1 tablespoon sweet wheat paste (tian mian jiang)
1 tablespoon preserved black beans (douchi)
1 teaspoon Chinese light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 thin leeks, or one fatter, American-style leek, cut in ½-inch sections

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the whole pork belly. Reduce heat and simmer belly until cooked through, around 30-40 minutes. Remove belly and allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for a few hours or the freezer for 20-30 minutes, which will firm up the meat and make it easier to slice.
Slice crosswise very thinly, into about 1/8-inch-thick pieces.

Heat a dry wok until hot. Add 2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, and when it just begins to smoke add the pork slices. Stir-fry until the pork slices are about half-way done and begin to curl. (If the pork renders more than about 3 or 4 tablespoons fat, pour the excess off, though do leave enough to make a sauce.)

Stir in the Pixian chili bean paste, sweet wheat paste, preserved black beans, soy sauce and sugar, mix well and continue to stir-fry until aromatic.

Add the leeks and stir-fry until softened. Remove to a serving plate.

Chingqing Chicken with Chilies

1 pound skinless chicken (dark or white), cut into smallish, 1-inch bites
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce
4 tablespoons potato starch (or cornstarch)
1 tablespoon chili powder (Sichuan or, for a spicier version, cayenne)
1 tablespoon ground, roasted Sichuan pepper
1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chili flakes (Chinese or Korean)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
At least 3 cups/3 ounces dried red chilies (Sichuan, Tianjin or other medium-hot chili)
1 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon green Sichuan peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
4 scallions, roughly chopped

Marinate chicken pieces in Shaoxing wine and soy sauce while you prepare the other ingredients.

Mix potato starch, chili powder, ground Sichuan pepper and salt in a large sealable baggie. Add the chicken pieces, leaving any accumulated juices behind. Shake the chicken pieces in the potato starch mixture until they are lightly coated.

Heat wok on high heat until starting to smoke and add enough canola or vegetable oil to deep-fry the chicken. If your wok or pan is large enough, you can fry it in one batch, but do not overcrowd the chicken. When oil is hot, add the chicken pieces and reduce heat to medium; the frying process should produce a medium bubble. When the chicken pieces appear to be cooked through, remove them from the oil. Return the oil to a high heat and add back the chicken. This time they should finish frying at a high heat, about 375°F (190°C), with a large, fast bubble. Fry just until the chicken is crispy and golden brown, then remove to drain on a paper towel.

Pour off oil, clean wok and return to heat. When wok starts to smoke, add the 4 tablespoons oil. Heat briefly on medium heat, then add the garlic and ginger and cook until softened. Stir-fry vigorously from now on, as you don’t want anything to brown. Add the chili flakes and sesame seeds, stirring until lightly toasted, then add the whole chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns. Stir until fragrant, then add the sugar.
Add back the chicken along with the scallions, and stir-fry until well mixed. Plate with chili peppers prominently displayed.

Yu Xiang Rou Si (Pork in Garlic Sauce or Fish Flavor Pork)

1/4 to 1 pound lean pork, cut in thin strips or slivers about 2 inches long
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
3 stalks Western celery or 6 stalks Chinese celery or equivalent amount of celtuce, cut in thin strips (save leaves for garnish)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons minced scallion
1 tablespoon Pixian chili bean paste (douban jiang)
3 tablespoons pickled chili sauce (la jiao jiang), preferably homemade (see related recipe)
3 tablespoons Zhenjiang black rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
3 tablespoons chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with equal amount of water
1/4 cup canola or peanut oil

Prep ingredients: slice pork into thin strips, which is much easier to do if it is slightly frozen. Marinate pork strips in Shaoxing wine.

Mince ginger, garlic and scallions.

Mix sauces: combine chili bean paste and pickled chili sauce in a small bowl. In a larger bowl or measuring cup mix Zhenjiang vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine and chicken stock. Mix cornstarch and water in another small prep bowl.

Heat wok over high flame until heat starts to rise. Add ¼ cup oil and when hot add the pork strips. Spread them out and let them cook, stirring and flipping them every so often until just cooked through. Move the pork to the sides of the wok with your spatula and add the ginger, garlic and scallions to the well in the center. There should be plenty of oil to briefly cook them. Add chili sauces and cook briefly. Mix pork into the sauce, then add celery. Mix all together and stir-fry until celery starts to wilt.

Add vinegar sauce mixture and distribute well, then add cornstarch slurry a bit at a time, continuing to stir-fry, until sauce thickens (you might not need it all). Plate and garnish with celery leaves.

Gong Bao Ji Ding (Kung Pao Chicken)

1 pound dark-meat chicken, cut in ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh cashews (or fresh skinless peanuts)
4 tablespoons Zhenjiang black vinegar
4 tablespoons chicken stock
2 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
12 (or more) dried medium-hot chili peppers, preferably Sichuan or Tianjin, large ones snipped in half
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
6 scallions, cut in ½-inch lengths, whites and greens separated
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic

Marinate chicken cubes in 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Heat wok until hot and add 3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil. When oil is hot, turn heat to low, add nuts and gently stir-fry until toasty brown all over. Watch closely so they don’t burn. Remove from wok and let drain on paper towel. They will firm up and become crunchy when cool.

Mix sauce ingredients together in a measuring cup: Zhenjiang vinegar, chicken stock, light soy sauce, sugar, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon salt.

Clean wok and return to heat. When wok is hot, add 2 tablespoons oil, swirl around the pan, and when you see smoke begin to rise, add the chicken cubes. Spread the chicken out around the wok, and let the pieces sear on one side. Flip the chicken and let sear on the other side. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked through and lightly browned. Remove chicken from wok and let drain on a paper towel.

Clean work and return to heat. When wok is hot, add 3 tablespoons fresh oil and heat briefly on a medium flame. Add chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns and stir-fry vigorously, toasting but not burning them. Add the scallion whites, ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant.

Add back the chicken cubes and toss in the scallion greens. Stir-fry briefly and mix well. Add the sauce and mix well. As the sauce thickens, add back the cashew nuts and stir-fry briefly until all ingredients are well combined. Plate and serve.

Dry-Fried Green Beans with Pork

grams) green beans, trimmed
1/4 pound (100 grams) ground pork
8 whole dried red chili peppers (preferably Sichuan or Tianjin); omit from dry-fried version
3 tablespoons yacai
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Deep-Fried Method:
Heat wok over a high flame until starting to smoke and add enough canola or peanut oil to deep-fry. Bring oil temperature to about 350°F (175°C) and deep-fry green beans until most of them have puckered skin. Do not brown them. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok. Reheat until hot and add pork, breaking it up into crumbles and cooking until it starts to brown. Add dried chili peppers, yacai, scallions and ginger and continue stir-frying. Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce and sugar and cook until the pork bits are crispy.
Add back the green beans and stir-fry until well-mixed and hot. Add the sesame oil, give a stir, and plate.

Dry-Fried Method:
Heat wok over a high flame until starting to smoke, then add 2 tablespoons oil. When hot, add green beans, stir-frying vigorously for about 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok. Reheat until hot and add pork, breaking it up into crumbles and cooking just until pink disappears. Add yacai, scallions and ginger and continue stir-frying. Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce and sugar and cook briefly. Do not brown.

Add back green beans, mix well, and lower heat to very low setting. You should hear a slight sizzle as the mixture cooks over the next couple of hours. Stir every 10 to 15 minutes to make sure pork isn’t burning. Cook for about two hours. Add the sesame oil, give a stir, and plate.

Roasted Potatoes (or Cauliflower) in Sichuan Black Bean Sauce

Potatoes (preferably small Yukon gold or red new potatoes)
Black bean chili oil (or crispy shallot chili oil)
Salt

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Cut potatoes into large bite-size pieces. Mix generously with black bean chili oil and salt and spread out evenly on a baking sheet.

Back at 400°F for 15 minutes, then stir to make sure potatoes aren’t sticking to pan. Lower oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, stirring once, until lightly browned and crispy.

Remove to a bowl and stir in more black bean chili oil to taste before serving.

Notes
Substitute cauliflower for an equally delicious dish using the exact same procedure

Sichuan Chili Oil with Shallots

1/2 cup preserved black beans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarse-ground Sichuan or Korean red pepper flakes or dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground, roasted Sichuan pepper or Chinese five-spice (optional)
1 1/2 cups peanut oil (China- or Taiwan-made, if possible)
1/4 cup finely diced shallots

Layer the dry ingredients in a heat-proof pint canning jar with a tight-fitting lid. Put black beans in first, then red pepper flakes, salt, sugar, and spice (if using). Set aside.

Add the oil to a small sauce pan and heat over a medium flame until hot. To test if hot, place one small shallot bit in the pan. If the pan is hot enough, the shallot bit will sizzle when it hits the oil.

Add the shallots and fry until they start to brown. Do not burn the shallots, but keep the oil at a fast bubbling simmer. When shallots are just golden, immediately transfer the hot oil and shallots to a glass measuring cup. Immediately pour the oil and shallots from the measuring cup over the jarred red pepper flake mixture. The flakes should fizz and sizzle, getting a light toast from the hot oil.

Allow to cool, then stir the mixture until well combined. Leave to cool and settle, and enjoy immediately or store in a cool, dark place. The mixture will taste best after it’s infused for a few days, and will last for roughly a month.